1 Sep 2010

Federated Farmers won't sign river accord

2:01 pm on 1 September 2010

Federated Farmers has stunned local authorities by announcing it will not sign an accord on cleaning up the polluted Manawatu River.

The Leaders' Accord was signed three weeks ago by 27 industry, council, environmental and iwi groups.

Federated Farmers was also expected to sign but has now produced an alternative, dubbed the People's Accord. As a result, it has been barred from future Leaders' Forum meetings.

The president of Tararua Federated Farmers, John Barrow, says its accord complements the original one but avoids emotional and unscientific statements about the state of the river and focuses on the entire community - not just the key dischargers - cleaning it up.

But the chairman of the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council, Garrick Murfitt, says Federated Farmers supports the clean-up and its position is inexplicable.

He says forum members were blindsided by the move, because they'd been led to believe the federation would eventually sign the accord.

Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy says he feels disappointed and frustrated.

Federated Farmers' Manawatu-Rangitikei president, Gordon McKellar, says farmers are disappointed they've been excluded from the forum but remain committed to cleaning up the river.